Edgar Wallace may be remembered as the creator of King Kong, but he was also known as the “king of the detective thriller”.
The Case of The Frightened Lady, which opened at The New Theatre tonight (Monday, March 5th), is a prime example of the genre.
Adapted by Anthony Lampard, from Wallace’s 1933 novel, and directed by Roy Marsden (remember him as TV detective Adam Dalgliesh?), this is the latest production from The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, formerly the Agatha Christie Theatre Company.
These folk are the consummate experts at this type of production, and Frightened Lady is a thoroughly enjoyable whodunnit in the classic style.
We join rain-coated Chief Superintendent Tanner (Gray O’Brien) of Scotland Yard and his sidekick Detective Sergeant Totti (Charlie Clements) – whose Italian heritage is signalled by his enthusiasm for coffee and the young lady of the house – at the ancestral home of the Lebanon family, to investigate a murder.
Here, in an impressive set, which suggests the grand architecture and history of the house, we meet an appealing array of characters – family, staff, and others – played by an excellent cast of familiar faces, including Rula Lenska, Denis Lill, Philip Lowrie, April Pearson, Rosie Thomson, Ben Nealon and Glenn Carter.
And – like the detectives – we discover that nothing is quite as it seems. What family secrets are being hidden? Who knows what about whom? And who is paying whom to do what?
You’ll find the interval useful for comparing notes on who is the most suspicious of this suspicious bunch, and which clues are just red herrings.
You may not be frightened by this production, but you’ll probably be startled once or twice, and thoroughly entertained by a highly professional thriller.
And if you work out whodunnit, you’re a much better detective than me!
The Case of The Frightened Lady continues at the New Theatre until Saturday. For further info and to book tickets, click here.
Review by Andrew Weltch